I recently received an email from a reader asking some questions about a particular situation. I won’t go into the details but one of the things she said was that she was trying to leave the situation in God’s hands. This is similar to some things I’ve talked about before but I want to revisit this idea.
This message of waiting for God to bring me the one or that God will bring the right one at the right time is super problematic if not wrong entirely. And yet it comes from everywhere. I remember once sitting in church and hearing the pastor in a marriage sermon say that he knew there were frustrated singles because God had not brought them the person yet.
It’s used often as a spiritual platitude spoken to singles as well as by singles themselves. Especially women.
It’s extremely shaky.
How do people get there? Well there are some good and bad internal motivations.
A few good motivations
- Some people are trying to honor God as sovereign over everything. They don’t want to take false credit or assume they know the answers. Fair enough.
- Some are trying to have a submissive attitude towards God. “God I want this or that, but Your will first, not mine”. A great starting point for any endeavor.
- Some have been so over focussed and have had marriage as an idol that they are trying to avoid that by giving it up.
- A lot of pastors and married folks are trying to be encouraging. Truly. They don’t see how they really got married other than a gift and they just know that God wants to gift their friends in the right time.
- An effort to defeat the myth that you earn a spouse from God – which is important because you don’t.
Here are a few bad motivations
- We don’t like dealing with rejection so if it’s all on God then it’s not on me
- We don’t like dealing with our insecurities so again it’s not on me
- We don’t like dealing with our sin and shortcomings. It’s not me God it’s You
- We are scared crapless and this way I don’t have to face the fear of acting
- We have completely over spiritualized the whole thing to the point that any action seems like it would be to take matters into our own hands and not allow for God to move..
These are just a few examples of how we arrive at the “When God wills it then I’ll get married” sayings.
None of this is actually helpful if you are over 25 and single.
We don’t do this with anything else we do. Not anything that we really care about anyway.
We shouldn’t do it with ministry. God will bring the people He wants to our church. We don’t have to ask anybody or market ourselves or serve the community. We’ll just build a building and hope some people show up. We don’t have to talk to them when they do. If they are meant to be here, then they’ll come back. No church planter I’ve ever known goes at it that way. (I’m sure some do – and the planting is short lived).
We don’t do this when we seek employment. I see a job opening at this great company I want to work for. I think I’m qualified. But I won’t apply or send them a resume. I won’t work to get an interview. I’ll just pray and if I’m supposed to have that job, I’m sure they’ll offer it to me.
We know this won’t work in any other area of our personal life. I need to lose 10 pounds. No need to work out or eat better. Just pray about it. After all if God wants me to be 10 pounds lighter He will make it happen.
I could do this all day. Literally. All. Day.
But for some reason, including the ones above, we’ve turned singleness and marriage into something that is basically akin to who gets in to heaven in terms of spiritual consequence.
Look, God has given us some guidelines. We should have qualifiers for sure. I’m not saying just go get married to whomever. But we have to act. Just like any other part of life.
In fact, and catch this (let those that have ears. . . ); It is in the acting that our faith is proven. Whatever you believe theologically about God’s sovereignty, that sovereignty should be a launching pad not a hiding place. It’s exactly because He is over everything that we can act in faith. So by all means – act.
In fact, God’s will is mostly done by God’s people. So we need to do it with God. But we need to do it. That’s the whole point! He wants us to do it all with Him. But He wants us to do it.
Over and over we need to submit our desires, heck our whole being, to God. We place ourselves in His hands and then we act out of that. He grows us along the way. Again that is His whole plan.
Now the question becomes what does that action look like? That’s a great question. I’ve written a lot about that for the guys here but in the coming weeks I’ll have a post for guys and one for the gals on what I think it means to act.
The bottom line for today: We should put ourselves in God’s hands. While there we should face our fears, insecurities, weaknesses and sins, as we act boldly to help advance the Kingdom that we know bringing – singleness, dating and marriage included.
Yes! Acting in faith is key. The only people (besides you, Justin!) who ever say things like “be patient” or “leave it up to God” with no action are people who already have what they want. It’s easier to spout platitudes from the other side.
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I’m not sure exactly how to word this, but, I am trying to find answers. I think you make an interesting point about how we don’t wait around for employment, etc. How should a woman in particular seek to be married? What are some things that they can or should do, if any?
I have been working on a post about this for women. I’m also working on one for women about things to do/not to do on a date(s). You might find the link below interesting.
Justin, I appreciate so much of what you say, and even that you’re keeping this up as a now-married man! Thank you. I fully agree with the content here. I’ve had a hard time meeting real prospects in the real world or online, and wondered what more I could do. One thing I did in 2016 was write a letter to 250 people I know asking them for an introduction. I sent them a few of my “networking” cards (with photos!) as well as a digital version they could email. A year later I’ve had dozens of words of encouragement and “praying for you”s, several introductions, a few phone calls, a handful of dates, and several not-yet-realized connections. I’ve felt the love just from people’s responses, though I’d also like to really connect with someone! I prefer the introduction format and would like to see it become more “normal.”